Why Sleep Is Important For Weight Loss and Fitness

When we talk about the best ways of losing weight, most people talk about the way we eat or how we workout. But very few people think about that other thing we do which takes up a third of our day… sleep ! I’m going to explain why sleep is important for weight loss and fitness overall.


Sleep plays an essential role in many areas of your life, and ensuring you get plenty of it will help your mental and physical health as well as quality of life. It affects how we think, react, work and learn. In children, it also helps support their growth and development. It’s fair to say that how we perform whilst awake is pretty much dictated by how much sleep we’ve had the night before, and possibly the night before that too. Sleep deprivation usually affects our performance the following day, but can also cause long-term chronic health problems.


Although we are asleep, our brain is working through the night to ensure it’s charged up ready for the day ahead, so that we are able to learn and recall information easily. Whenever I’ve had a good nights sleep, it has helped me absorb the information I am learning much easier. It assists with your problem-solving skills, making you more decisive. A lack of sleep can slow down the thinking process, cause confusion, affect emotions and behaviour. We are more productive after a good night’s sleep, as it’s possible to complete tasks quicker and with fewer mistakes.


Sleep deficiency is also linked to a risk of heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and increases the risk of obesity.

According to a report by the CDCP, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35% of people are sleep deprived. It is also reported that around the same percentage of people are seriously overweight or obese, therefore it’s easy to find a connection between the two.

Not getting the recommended number of hours sleep every night can actually undo all the great work you’ve been putting in working out or dieting. Tests were performed on a number of people of similar age, size and weight who ate and exercised the same for a week. The only difference was the amount of sleep each person had. Those who had a good night’s sleep of at least 8 hours lost considerably more weight than those who were deprived of a good night’s kip!

Research has show that sleeping less than six hours triggers the area of your brain that increases your need for food. It can also encourage binge eating, and indulging in junk food you wouldn’t normally touch. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (AKA ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you’re well-rested.

Scientists from Brazil have found that lack of sleep decreases protein synthesis (your body’s ability to make muscle), causes muscle loss, and can lead to a higher incidence of injuries. The lack of sleep also makes it harder for your body to recover from exercise.

As for exactly how much sleep a person needs, well, it’s between 7 and 9 hours.

Sleep deprivation impacts us physically, which can negatively affect our coordination, agility, mood and energy. Sleeping better leads to improvements in athletic performance, including faster sprint time, better endurance, lower heart rate, and even improved mood and higher levels of energy during a workout. If you are well rested you will approach social, professional, and physical challenges in the most advantageous state of mind and body.

What about a mattress then?

Well those sleeping on a newer mattress are significantly more likely to engage in exercise than those on an old mattress. Older mattresses increase the chances of waking up with back and neck pain, which then affects your ability to perform your workout the next day. Replacing an older mattress of 5 years or older with a new, good quality, medium – firm mattress can significantly reduce discomforts such as shoulder and back pain, and back stiffness, and can significantly increase sleep quality and comfort.

My Garmin Forerunner 235 watch monitors sleep, which is one of the reasons I purchased it. You can read my review of the Garmin Forerunner 235 here.


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